Self-Care as Community Care: A Q+A with Minaa B

A therapist, wellness coach, and mental health educator, Minaa B has over eight years of clinical experience and a passion for both mental health and social justice. At the core of her work is helping others cultivate self-care and self-advocacy through the lens of boundaries and community-care.

"Although you did not cause your pain, you are responsible for healing your pain. When we engage deeper in this work that moves us from disempowered beings to empowered beings, we can show up for ourselves and also our communities."

Minaa, we’d love to hear more about your relationship with self-care. What does this look and feel like for you? 
I practice self-care in many different ways. It is specific to me and my needs and I find new ways to take care of myself by being curious and leaning deeper into the things that interest me. These practices look like getting rest both during the day and at night, moving my body-specifically through going on walks, disconnecting from social media, setting limits with myself and others through boundaries and also leaning on community for both connection and support. 

How would you define self-care on both a personal and communal level? 
Personal self-care is all about taking care of yourself. It’s about identifying your needs and finding practical ways to care for yourself. Communal care means showing up for others. It is offering help, engaging in healthy relationships, and even getting a better sense of who the people are in your community through work, school, geographic location etc. and pouring into them as well.

Were you always aware of the relationship between individual and community healing? What do you think inspired this awareness? 
I feel like I always practiced community healing but I didn’t realize it had a name. I have always been apart of different communities either through church, school, or even my neighborhood and now that I know there is a term for it this helps me to see how deeply important community has been for my healing. 

What role does self-inquiry play in creating a more harmonious society? 
Self-inquiry is all about learning ourselves and getting an understanding of why we operate the way we do, why we think what we think, and why we engage in the behaviors that we do. The more we have an understanding of ourselves, we can learn to see how different we are from other people and, though this isn’t a bad thing, sometimes there are parts of us that have the potential to cause harm from our beliefs systems and the ways we’ve been taught to see or treat people. Self-inquiry is self-responsibility, and by being accountable for ourselves and our actions we can create change in the world.

What about boundaries? 
Boundaries are healthy limits that we put in place to preserve our energy as well as our relationships. The reality is that we are humans, not superhumans, which means we do not have the power or capacity to be stretched thin and be everything for everyone. When we know our limits, we know how to show up for others or when to redirect them, and that is both gracious and healing. 

How do you think people mistake practices that perpetuate harm and strengthen individualism as self-care? 
Often people make healing a self-centered practice without the inclusion of community-care. When we are self-absorbed and only focused on how we can feel better, we sometimes miss the mark and don’t relieve the ways we might be causing harm. It’s also important to assess the many ways we are committed to being right and getting defensive as a way to self-protect, and recognize how that is hurting us more than healing us. This work is about showing up fully and addressing the sides to ourselves that are both beautiful and ugly. 

How can we clarify what it means to truly be well and work towards that as a collective? What impact do you think the pandemic has had on how we view healing on a global scale?
Being truly well is complex, it isn’t black-and-white, but it embodies wellness within the scope of our physical, mental, spiritual, financial, and intellectual health. The pandemic has actually opened a lot of people's eyes to the importance of mental health and I hope we remain on this trajectory of self-exploration and community healing. Everyone, everywhere has been impacted by the pandemic and in some ways started to experience subtle shifts in their mental health. This revelation has played a role in helping people become more open about their struggles. 

From your clinical experience, what do you think stands in the way of people feeling truly aligned with themselves and, therefore, with their communities? 
People experience many things like trauma, which is very complex and can manifest through issues like childhood abandonment to poverty or even racial violence. Adversity can have a strong hold on us but as the saying goes, although you did not cause your pain, you are responsible for healing your pain. When we engage deeper in this work that moves us from disempowered beings to empowered beings, we can show up for ourselves and also our communities. 

Who and what have been your greatest teachers? 
My life experiences are my greatest teachers 

Do you have any favorite books that have supported you on your path? 
Anything written by Brené Brown

Do you have a morning ritual - or an evening routine? We’d love to hear more!
My evenings are for relaxing. I might bake or watch a show, but it’s usually a time spent with myself, away from my phone and work related tasks. It’s all about unwinding.

How do you find stillness? 
Through being present with myself. Learning to be mindful and live in the present and not always be in my head following my thoughts.

In addition to her work as a therapist, corporate coach, and workshop facilitator, Minaa also shares mental health education on her Instagram account @minaa_b